What is WOC Nursing?
Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nursing (formerly Enterostomal Therapy ET/WOCN) is a specialized field of nursing involving the care of patients with abdominal stomas, dermal wounds, pressure ulcers, incontinence and related skin conditions. WOC nurses are in demand in colorectal surgery, urology, pediatrics, oncology and rehabilitation departments, to name a few. Their expertise makes them valuable not only in the hospital; but also in outpatient clinics, private practice, home care, at extended care facilities, in industry and research, and in nursing education programs.
People with ostomies, fistulae, pressure ulcers and incontinence have very special needs. Recognizing these needs and the concerns you may have about them, Cleveland Clinic employs a team of nurses, called Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nurses, devoted specifically to helping you overcome any initial anxiety or insecurity you may feel.
Nearly one million people in North American have ostomies, and 70,000 new ostomy surgeries are performed each year. Recognizing that people with ostomies, fistulas, pressure ulcers and incontinence have special needs, Cleveland Clinic pioneered the Enterostomal Therapy Program, now called Wound, Ostomy, Continence (WOC) Nursing.
Specially trained Wound, Ostomy, Continence (WOC) nurses are devoted to helping both adult and pediatric patients by offering preoperative counseling and stoma siting prior to ostomy surgery; caring for patients after surgery; and providing education to patients about post-discharge needs and self stoma care. Cleveland Clinic WOC nurses are board-certified by their professional organization and have received special training. Each day at Cleveland Clinic, WOC nurses care for 50 to 60 people, and each year see more than 2,700 individuals in the outpatient clinic.
Why Become a WOC Nurse?
Greater job opportunities since your ET/WOC nursing skills will be in demand throughout the country and around the world in hospital; home care; extended care facilities; outpatient clinics; private practice; industry and research; and educational institutions.
- The potential for higher pay as an WOC nursing specialty practice.
- The professional prestige of being an RN WOC Nurse.
- Eligibility to sit for certification from the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board.
- Fulfilling contact hours for continuing nursing education that your home state may require.
- The personal satisfaction of providing in-depth, individualized care to patients in need.
For more information about Wound, Ostomy, Continence (WOC) Nursing contact:
In 1958, Rupert B. Turnbull, Jr., MD, a pioneer in colorectal surgery at Cleveland Clinic learned that one of his former ileostomy patients, Norma Gill, was assisting stoma patients in her hometown of Akron, Ohio. He offered her a position as the world's first full-time enterostomal therapist and coined the term "enterostomal therapy."
The two established the first enterostomal therapy training program, later named the R.B. Turnbull Jr., MD, School of Wound, Ostomy, Continence/Enterostomal Therapy Nursing.
In 1968, at the suggestion of Dr. Turnbull, 12 of the first graduates met and formed the North American Association of Enterostomal Therapists (today called the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society). A year later, the organization constituted a convention held at Cleveland Clinic.
When it was founded nearly fifty years ago, Cleveland Clinic's WOC school was the first of its kind in the world. Since then, it has graduated more than 1000 of the approximately 3,800 WOC nurse specialists practicing throughout the world. The program is well-established, well known and highly respected.
The department now has extensive experience in the management of patients with stomas. Cleveland Clinic sponsors a school of Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nursing in which nurses are trained in the art of managing intestinal stomas. The WOC Nursing staff covers the outpatient clinic area and assist in-hospital patients with stomas. These specially trained registered nurses are able to give patients education about taking care of their stoma, and information on ordering supplies. If pouching/stoma problems develop, the WOC nurse can help problem solve to find the correct pouching system for an individual.
What Sets Our Program Apart
Extensive Clinical Exposure
- Thanks to Cleveland Clinic's large volume of patients - between 40-60 ostomy-fistula and 35-50 pressure ulcer and incontinence patients are in the hospital on any given day - you will be exposed to a wide variety of medical conditions and treatments.
- Working closely with one of our WOC nurses, you will receive hands-on experience in caring for patients with intestinal and urinary stomas, urinary and fecal incontinence, dermal ulcers, cutaneous fistula and other selected skin conditions.
Extensive Resources of Cleveland Clinic
- Your classroom lectures and curriculum are enriched with input from specialists throughout Cleveland Clinic, including colorectal surgeons, fellows and residents; and experts from urology, pediatrics, dietetics, oncology and other departments.
- Accredited by Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses Society*
- Cleveland Clinic Enterprise is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.
- Approved by Allied Health & Education Council of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation*
- Recognized by The World Council of Enterostomal Therapists
*Contact the school office for expiration dates.
The on-site, eight-week didactic and clinical program is offered several times each year. The program combines classroom education with clinical experience in four major area of study:
- Ostomy and fistulae
- Acute and chronic wounds
- Professional Practice
The didactic curriculum consists of 140 hours of lectures, demonstrations and discussion groups. The clinical component includes patient care in acute and ambulatory care with optional experience in long-term and home care.
As part of the curriculum, you will participate in the Cleveland Clinic-wide Skin Care Team, a joint effort of the division of Nursing and Plastic Surgery. You'll practice a systematic approach to skin care management, including assessment; intervention, topical therapies and patient education.
The teaching faculty comprises board-certified WOC nurses, colorectal and urology surgeons and physicians, residents, and specialists from other departments within Cleveland Clinic. Also contributing to the curriculum are experts in home care, social service, plastic surgery, nutrition and other specialties.
Barbara Hocevar MSN, RN, CWOCN, has over 30 years experience in WOC Nursing and educating new WOC Nurses. She has been employed at Cleveland Clinic since 1984 and is a Clinical Instructor with the school.
Kelly Jaszarowski MSN, RN, CNS, ANP, CWOCN has over 23 years in WOC Nursing and educating new nurses. She has been employed since 2013 as a Clinical Instructor with the school.
Linda Stricker MSN/Ed, RN, CWOCN has 20 years experience in WOC Nursing, six years experience teaching in nursing programs and joined the Turnbull School of WOC Nursing Education in 2008. She is the current director of the program.
The Ann Goldstein Online WOC Nursing Education Program provides students the same range of curriculum and access to expert faculty as the live school program and incorporates technology with education in a highly interactive virtual classroom. Students acquire the knowledge and skills to provide patients with effective psychological support, discharge planning, rehabilitative counseling and follow-up care.
The online curriculum includes:
- Concepts in WOC Nursing
- Wound and Skin Management
- Wound & Skin Practicum
- Fecal and Urinary Diversions
- Ostomy Practicum, Wound & Skin Practicum
- Continence Management
- Continence Practicum, Wound & Skin Practicum
Like the live classes, graduates of the online program are eligible to sit for the certification exam through the Wound Ostomy Continence Certification Board.
Following the online didactic program that includes individual and group projects, learning activities, discussion threads and online testing, each student will also be required to complete a 120 hour clinical practicum with a WOCN approved preceptor.
Our online instructors are available to students and engage regularly with students through various communication channels including email, chat and message boards. Our online instructors also teach classes through the Turnbull School of WOC Nursing Education, the live school program.
Benefits of Online Training in WOC Nursing
- Students complete the program and become eligible for certification from the comfort of their own homes.
- No added expense of travel and living arrangements.
- Many opportunities to interact with classmates and faculty.
- The program includes a clinical component that may be completed with an approved local WOC nursing preceptor.
- Courses prepare students to play a vital role in pre- and post-operative management of the person with an ostomy; to be instrumental in the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers, fistula, and other skin disorders; and to be a specialist in the care of patients with urinary and fecal incontinence.
- Students will acquire the necessary skills to provide patients with effective psychological support, discharge planning, rehabilitative counseling and follow-up care.
- When it was founded in 1961, Cleveland Clinic's R.B. Turnbull, Jr., MD, School of WOC Nursing was the first of its kind in the world. Since then, it has graduated more than 1,500 of about 6,000 WOC nurse specialists practicing throughout the world.
You must be a registered nurse with a four-year baccalaureate nursing degree, or baccalaureate degree in a field other than nursing with demonstrated baccalaureate level nursing competencies in the areas of health assessment, leadership and management, research and statistics, and community health nursing. Masters in nursing without baccalaureate in nursing will be considered.
A scholarship for Enterostomal Therapy/Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nursing Education may be available from:
R.B. Turnbull, Jr., MD
School of WOC Nursing
9500 Euclid Avenue, HS1-500
Cleveland, OH 44195
Linda Stricker, MSN/ED, RN, CWOCN
Director, Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nursing Education
Each year, Cleveland Clinic's highly respected R.B. Turnbull, Jr., MD School of Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing (WOC) proudly inducts two or three exceptional WOC nurses or enterostomal therapists from throughout the world into its WOC Nursing Hall of Fame. Founded in 2013, the Hall of Fame comprises inductees who have made a lasting and indelible impact on the specialty of WOC nursing.
2013 Hall of Fame Inductees
Norma N. Gill, ET, was the world’s first enterostomal therapist. In 1958, along with Rupert B. Turnbull, Jr., MD, a pioneer in colorectal surgery at Cleveland Clinic, she established the first enterostomal therapy training program, which later became the R.B. Turnbull Jr., MD, School of Wound, Ostomy, Continence/Enterostomal Therapy Nursing. As the founder and first President of the World Council of Enterostomal Therapists (WCET), Gill devoted her life to helping others and revolutionizing ostomy care. (1920-1998)
Debra Broadwell-Jackson, PhD, RN, ET, wrote the first-ever textbook on ostomy care. From 1975 to 1984, she was the program director for Emory University’s enterostomal therapy education program and was also a former National President for the International Association for Enterostomal Therapy (IAET). Broadwell-Jackson is a prolific author, having written numerous publications on the topics of enterostomal therapy and wound, ostomy and continence nursing, and her works are frequently cited throughout the healthcare industry.
Submit a Nomination
Do you know a WOC nurse or enterostomal therapist who you think should be inducted into the Hall of Fame?
Nominations are accepted regularly. Inductees are announced and recognized at Cleveland Clinic’s annual WOC Nursing Spring Symposium.
If you have any questions regarding the WOC Nursing Hall of Fame or need assistance submitting a nomination, please contact Cleveland Clinic’s WOC Education Program Director Linda Stricker at 216.445.4816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.